Five Energy Innovations To Transform The World

The term “disruptor” has become an overused phrase that has cheapened the perceived impact that new tech, new processes, new ideas, and new generations have on the world. But there are a handful of true disruptors in the energy industry that may rather unexaggeratedly change the way in which the world works. The EIA’s chief energy modeler disagrees. “First, there ...


The Advent of a New Technology

  February 7, 1817 – The Advent of a New Technology Born in Baltimore The nation’s first gas fuelled public street lamp lights up a street in Charm City and with that the Gas Light Company of Baltimore becomes the first commercial gas lighting service in the United States. Baltimore was the first city to begin using gas lit street lights outside of Europe, 110 years after they were introduced in London.  In a move away from using oil to illuminate the streets, the enterprise used distilled wood and tar to produce the gas that would light up the darkness of Baltimore’s streets. This continued until electric lights began to be used more progressively throughout the 20th century, beginning after the First World War, with the final gas lamp being extinguished in 1957. Forty years later, in 1997, a monument to the first ever street gas lamp was erected on the corner of North Holliday Street and Lemon Street, where a street lamp— a replica of the 19th century standard—stands decorated with a plaque reading “Site of the First Gas Street Lamp in America, February 7, 1817.” Esteemed Baltimore portrait artist and museum curator, Rembrandt Peale, following his brother Ruben’s footsteps in curating the Museum of the City of Philadelphia, presented a modern view of the city with the whole museum lit by gaslight. This innovation stunned local socialites and capitalists. In turn, Peale was able to acquire vital gas lighting patents and was able to establish the Gas Light Company of Baltimore (today known as BGE a subsidiary of Chicago based Exelon), an innovative enterprise which utilized incredibly smart technology for the time. With his “Gas lights, without oil, tallow, wick or smoke,” Peale changed the way American twilight looked forever. A replica of the first gas powered street lamp in Baltimore, Maryland     February 9, 2013 – Drilling Makes it Way to Mars Drilling expanded its horizons out into the galaxy on February 9, 2013. NASA received images from its Curiosity Rover stationed on Mars showing that it had bore a small hole in the surface of Mars, the first feat of its type by mankind on another planet in our solar system. At only 2.5 inches deep, the sampling hole is based in the Yellowknife basin of the Gale crater on the red planet, our second closest planetary neighbour in the solar system. The rover, which is only slightly larger than a terrestrial Mini Cooper, used its 7-foot robotic arm to carve a hole into a outcrop of flat rock to retrieve dust samples intended for analytical equipment within the rover itself. The findings are intended to determine whether Mars has ever offered a favourable environment for microbial life, and the findings have been ‘tremendously exciting’ according to Dr. Jim Green, Director of NASA Planetary Sciences Division at NASA HQ. Upon drilling into the sedimentary rock, the resulting vibrations revealed a whitish powdery substance, thought to be calcium sulphate and other rust coloured dirt. The breathtaking images received from Curiosity show two drilling sites. The first is a shallow depression, marked only by the rotary-percussion drill bit being tested on the surface, then next to it, the fully bored well. The drill was of a low percussion to ensure that the bedrock was not shattered in the process of drilling. The current design of the Curiosity Rover will be the precursor to the next planned Rover mission to Mars, scheduled for 2020. Stunning photos from the drilling expedition on the surface of Mars.     February 10, 1910 — Buena Vista Oilfield Established by Honolulu Oil Company In 1910, one of the oldest and most prolific oil fields in the United States was discovered along the Kern River near Bakersfield. The Buena Vista oilfield was discovered by the Honolulu Oil Company and while originally used as a gas well, further drilling unveiled rich, oil-producing sands. The oil field was known as ‘Honolulu’s Greatest Gasser’ until steam injection, an increasingly common method of extracting crude, helped extract between 3,000 to 4,000 barrels of the highly viscous heavy California oil. Prior to the First World War, in 1912, under President William Taft, the United States Navy began to move from coal to oil for its warship boilers. The Buena Vista oilfield then became the Naval Oil Reserve No.2  following in the footsteps of the original reserve in Wyoming. San Joaquin Valley, Bakersfield California     February 10, 1917 – Establishment of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists in Tulsa, As oil use began to proliferate around the world from industrial to domestic usage, the demand for oil grew. In turn there was more of an economy for oil, but the methods of determining where a discovery could be made were still primitive, and the science was equally dubious. Enter the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), who organised as the Southwestern Association of Petroleum Geologists in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Convening in Henry Kendall College (later renamed Tulsa University), the association was a group of 90 scientists dedicated to promoting the science of geology in the Petroleum industries, but also in order to focus on technological “improvements in the methods of exploring for and exploiting these substances.” However, the main objective of the association was to establish a consensus group where only the most credible and reputed petroleum geologists would be given admittance. They established Bulletin, a bi-monthly, peer-reviewed scientific journal was published by the AAPG, and included papers written by the leading contemporaneous geologists of the day. By 1920, the group’s membership had grown exponentially, but fears grew that some new members were less scrupulous than the original patrons. As noted in an oil trade publication, the group was trying to mitigate any “fakers” and “unscrupulous men inadequately prepared” for the geological work that stood in the way of the oil. Membership of the AAPG grew throughout the years, reaching 10,000 members by 1953. In the interim, in 1945, the AAPG teamed up with Boy Scouts of America...

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Riders on the Hemlock

  January 31, 1888 – Oil Scout’s Death Brings Attention to Riders on the Hemlock On January 31, 1888, oil scout Justus McMullen officially passed away from pneumonia at the age of 37. The civil engineer hailed from Cornell University and had been scouting data from the Pittsburgh Manufacturers Gas Company Well at Canonsburg. The scouts, known at the time as ‘Riders on the Hemlock,’ braved deadly conditions to debunk rumours about oil production reports—often under the watch of armed guards. McMullen was not only a scout but the creator of a newspaper in Bradford, PA called The Petroleum Age. This publication was vital to early oil field production, as his detective work (which was reportedly almost always reliable) would ‘demystify’ reports of production where there was none. This would prevent feverish investors, blinded by the prospect of succeeding in the oil boom, from being duped out of their oil certificate investments. In the wake of conflicting reports about the Canonsburg Well, McMullen set out to investigate for himself. Already sick at the time, McMullen was not satisfied with the hearsay evidence coming from the producers and set out through the night to gauge the flow from the well, if any at all. He stayed there for hours, chilled to the bone and was able to eventually gather the required information, which he brought home and dictated to his wife from his deathbed. While tips, misinformation and rouses continued to cause the market to behave erratically, McMullen’s diligence paid-off posthumously when Standard Oil declared to its subsidiaries that oil certificates were no longer to be sold, and that the market would be dictated by predetermined prices, set by its own reading of the industry’s supply and demand quotients. ‘Riders on the Hemlock’ as they were known, or oil scouts. Publisher, writer and detective Justus McMullen seated bottom right.     January 31 1945 — Petroleum Club of Houston Opens its Doors The Petroleum Club of Houston on January 31st, 1945 under the vision of Wilbur Ginther, Howard C Warren and Harris Underwood. The Petroleum Club of Houston was founded following the ‘Security of the Clubs’ charter by the state of Texas. The group originally met on the top floor of the Rice Hotel, downtown, where they curated the idea for a club for independent men in the oil industry to have an exclusive meeting point to discuss the future of their industry in Texas. To this day, deals done here are sealed with a handshake, and this system epitomizes the tradition, honor, integrity and fraternity within the council. Soon the growing club outgrew the top floor of The Rice Hotel and in 1963 they moved to the 43rd and 44th floor of the Exxonmobil Building. This is now home to some of Houston’s most prestigious and sought after social events. And in January 2015, now claiming well over 1200 members, the Petroleum Club of Houston opened another chapter in Houston which meets at the Total Plaza at 1201 Louisiana Street. The new facility was designed by leading Houstonian architectural firm, Kirskey architecture. Vintage postcard of the Rice Hotel in downtown Houston Texas     February 1, 1868 — Crude Oil Pricing Changes, Ushering in the End for Oil Exchanges On February 1, 1868, it was announced that crude oil would be price-quoted based on specific gravity, marking the beginning of the end for oil exchanges. The new method involved comparing the heaviness of the substance against that of water. Newer oil regions in the North-East, such as in Pennsylvania, saw producers meet often to sell oil shares while arguing and fixing prices. The change to a standardized measurement was bemoaned by beneficiaries as “taking the fun out of the prospecting market” and “killing a great industry.” In the modern age, the American Petroleum Institute (or API) uses its own gravity metric, which is now the international standard for measuring the gravity of the oil. Now we measure oil as light, medium and heavy; relative to its viscous gravity.     February 2, 1923 — Industry’s First Anti-Knock Gasoline Sold in Dayton, OH In 1923, the first ever “anti-knock” gasoline hit the market in Dayton, Ohio, and while it would be short-lived this gasoline would change the gas industry forever. Early on in the development of internal combustion engines, an issue arose called ‘knocking’, which created a loud “knocking” noise and problems in the cylinders. The main issue occurring was out-of-sequence detonation of the gasoline and air mixture in the cylinder itself. The damage caused by the volatility of the knock would badly damage engines, so research chemists at General Motors, Thomas Midgley Jr. and Charles F. Kettering determined that there were beneficial components in tetraethyl lead that would aid in the anti-knocking process. In fact, with the addition of tetraethyl lead to the engine, the knocking abruptly stopped. “Ethyl” as the product became known, was the world’s first anti-knock gasoline and was available at the Refiner’s Oil Company service station in Dayton, Ohio. It was popular among motorists and vital to the US aviation effort during the Second World War. Unfortunately for Ethyl, her life was short lived, because in 1950 geochemist Dr. Clair Patterson determined that the level of toxicity in Ethyl was much more grave than the researchers, executives and lobbyists had previously led the public to believe. Ethyl sits alongside regular and 3rd grade fuel for sale. It wouldn’t be long before it was off the market altogether.     February 3, 1868 — Oil Refiners Pass A Resolution to Reverse War Tax Less than a year after Robert E. Lee surrendered the last major Confederate Army to Ulysses S. Grant, disgruntled refiners from Pennsylvania met and passed a resolution demanding the immediate repeal of a war tax that placed an extra $1 on each barrel of refined petroleum. From almost the beginning of the war, Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase  was looking for ways to drum up finances. He had advocated for duty as much...

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Renewable Energy’s Inconvenient Truth

The energy needs of the world’s economy seem to be easy to model. Energy consumption is measured in a variety of different ways including kilowatt-hours, barrels of oil equivalent, British thermal units, kilocalories and joules. Two types of energy are equivalent if they produce the same number of units of energy, right? For example, xkcd’s modeler Randall Munroe explains the ...



(This item is an automated alert generated directly from a government database of environmental notices filed by energy companies. It may be followed by a news story depending on the severity of the incident's impact on operations.) Responsible Party: Name: Phillips-66 Wood River Refinery Hazmat Incident Type-HAZMAT: Flaring Event Incident Location: Date/Time Occurred: 2019-10-25 07:50 [Read more]

Source: BOE Report

First US Oil Exports

  January 9, 1862 – US Exports Oil For the First Time (found here: Barrels similar to these would have been used to transport oil on board the Elizabeth Watts.   In 1862, America exported petroleum for the first time, marking the beginning of centuries of oil exportation in the United States. The oil traveled on the brig Elizabeth Watts which traveled from Philadelphia to London in a harrowing six week trip. Ship carried over 1300 barrels of oil and kerosene extracted from oil fields in Pennsylvania. At the time, the mission was seen as a very dangerous one, as there were fears that the brig would blow up carrying its explosive cargo. However, the Elizabeth Watts arrived safely in England. A year later, over 200,000 barrels of oil had been shipped out of the port of Philadelphia. It would be decades before specialized equipment for carrying oil and petroleum were invented.     January 10, 1870 – Rockefeller Founds Petroleum Juggernaut (found here: A share certificate for the Standard Oil Company. In 1882, four years after this certificate was issued, Standard Oil would be reorganized into a trust in response to government efforts to limit the size of companies.   In 1870, John D. Rockefeller officially incorporated the Standard Oil Company, the world’s largest oil juggernaut. Initially based in Cleveland, Ohio, a large part of the company’s plan involved controlling as much of its business as possible while reducing costs for customers. Standard Oil cut its own timber, transported the cut logs, and used it to make their barrels; a move that allows them to cut their costs per barrel in half. Scientists working for Standard Oil would also develop a process to increase the efficiency of the refining process. The company was well known for undercutting local businesses and buying them up, eventually coming to control the vast majority of U.S. oil refining and transportation.     January 10, 1901 – Spindletop Gusher Kicks Off Texas Oil Boom (found here: This painting, entitled ‘Spindletop viewing her Gusher,’ was painted by Aaron Arion and commissioned by George Washington Carroll. Carroll was one of the original investors in Gladys City Oil, Gas, and Manufacturing Company. He was also the Prohibition Party’s candidate for Vice President in 1904.   On January 10, 1901, Captain Anthony F. Lucas struck oil on top of Spindletop HIll in Beaumont, Texas, in a move that would set the entire Texas oil boom in motion. he Lucas Gusher, as it came to be known, as one of the most significant oil discoveries in the United States. The Spindletop oil field produced over 3 ½ million barrels in its first year. After 1902, however, production began to decline until the Yount-Lee Oil Company had another major oil strike in 1925. The discovery of the Spindletop oil field is also said to mark the beginning of the modern oil industry.     January 10, 1919 – Standard Oil Discovers Oil In Elk Hills, California (found here: The Elk Hills oil field (pictured with three operating wells)is still active today, 100 years after its initial discovery.   The Elk Hills oil field isn’t only one of the highest-producing fields in the area, but also one of the oldest and has been active for over a century. When oil was discovered in the San Joaquin Valley in Kern County, Southern California quickly became a highly productive area for petroleum. The Elk Hills oil field, one of the first major discoveries of the region, was leased, at the time, by Secretary Albert B. Fall to Harry Sinclair. The lease became the subject of a Senate investigation and led to the Teapot Dome Scandal. The Elk Hills Field is close to Midway Sunset Oilfield, which is currently the largest in California.     January 10, 1921 – Arkansas Becomes Leading Oil Producer (found here: In downtown El Dorado, Arkansas, this memorial to the boomtown years is part of the Oil Heritage Park. The statues commemorate the friendship of oil magnates Charles Murphy and Chesley Pruet.   1921 was a good year for the state of Arkansas, the Busey-Armstrong No. 1 well was spewing a fountain of oil, gas, and water and the oil field surrounding it would soon lead to a boom that would make Arkansas the leading oil producer in the country. In 1925 the field itself would be the leading oil producer in the United States as that year alon,e 70 million barrels were pumped by wells near El Dorado. This all happened when H.L. Hunt arrived in El Dorado, Arkansas to take part in the oil boom with just $50 of borrow money in his pocket. Hunt would eventually come to control large portions of the East Texas Oil Field, becoming one of the richest men in the world at the time. He fathered over a dozen children, was implicated in JFK assassination conspiracy theories, and provided the inspiration for the long running soap opera Dallas.     January 11, 1926 – Oil Discovery Leads To Founding Of Borger, Texas (found here: This well near Borger, Texas, tapped into one of the largest oil fields in North America.   The town of Borger, Texas got its official start in 1926, when the Dixon Creek Oil and Refining Company completed the Smith No. 1 Well struck oil. Located in Hutchinson County, Texas, the well produced 10,000 barrels a day, leading to an oil boom and the founding of the Texas town. A.P. “Ace” Borger, leased a large tract of land in the area and received a grant from the Texas Secretary of State to build a town near the profitable well. He had experience putting together boom towns, but Borger proved to be one of the fastest growing ever established. The town, which Ace named after himself, grew to a population of over 10,000 in just a few months. In addition to dividing and selling plots of land for construction, Ace also built...

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Several Oil Companies Combine to Form Magnolia Oil

  November 21, 1925 — Small Oil Companies Merge to Form Magnolia Petroleum (found here: Magnolia Petroleum operated over 500 service stations across from Texas to Arkansas.   In 1925, several small oil companies decided to join forces to start a chain of reactions that would eventually lead to the creation of the widely recognizable ExxonMobil. At the time, the companies came together to create Magnolia Petroleum. Though the Magnolia brand name did not exist until that year, the companies had been managed as part of an association of owners holding stock in every business. The different companies had sold petroleum across the South in over 500 gas stations. However, Magnolia didn’t stay an independent company for long. Only a month after its founding, Standard Oil bought Magnolia and most of its stations and assets. Magnolia Petroleum would continue to exist as a subsidiary of the much larger company until 1959. That year it was merged with Mobile Oil. Both companies began to use the Pegasus brand that has been the symbol of Mobil stations since. Eventually, the company would be part of the merger that created ExxonMobil.     November 22, 1905 — New Oilfield Leads to Tulsa Boom (found here: Tulsa’s oil boom would lead to a population boom, that brought almost 100,000 residents to the city in just 15 years.   In 1905, a major discovery south of Tulsa in the Indian Territory lead to one of the largest oil strikes in the US, and to the city’s subsequent title of being “The Oil Capital of the World.” The Ida Glenn No. 1 was the first of many wells in the Glenn Pool. The unique name of this history-making well came from the Native American woman, Ida Glenn, who owned the land and leased it to oil companies. The Glenn Pool strike would soon prove more productive than the earlier Red Fork oil discovery just a few miles to the north. The land would also prove to be richer than the famous Spindletop oilfield in Texas. By 1907, when Tulsa became part of the new Oklahoma State, it was producing more oil than any other state in the Union. Thanks to such high production levels, Tulas would become known as the ‘Oil Capital of the World.’ The Glenn Pool oilfield is still producing today, thanks to modern techniques for enhancing oil recovery.     November 22, 2003 — Smithsonian Opens Permanent Exhibit on US Transportation (found here: The ‘America On The Move’ exhibit covers the effects changing forms of transportation had on US history and society, as well as offering a behind-the-scenes look at how the Smithsonian assembles exhibitions.   In 2003, the Smithsonian unveiled a new permanent exhibit that would highlight the impact and changes that transportation has had on our country’s history. The new National Museum of American History exhibit called ‘American On The Move’ includes authentic examples of automobiles, a 200 ton locomotive, and other forms of transportation. It sprawls over 25,000 square feet of the museum and shows a chronology of technological advances through history using hundreds of items. The $22 million dollar exhibition is intended to allow visitors to see how changes in transportation, from horse and buggy to jetliners, changed the United States; and of course, the impact that the oil and gas industry has had on those developments.     November 23, 1951 — Mole Men Emerge From Oil Well In First Superman Movie (found here: George Reeves starred as Superman for the first movie that featured any character from the DC comics lineup.   In 1951, the very first Superman movie hit the silver screen. Titled “Superman and the Mole Men’ the popular film’s plot revolved around drilling of the world’s deepest oil well. Clark Kent and Lois Lane, played by George Reeves and Phyllis Coates, travel to Silsby, the fictional home of Havenhurst Experimental No. 1 oil well. Instead of striking oil, the well, which is drilled to 32,000 feet, finds the home of the subterranean mole men. When the bald creatures climb to the surface to explore they are met with fear by the townspeople. Luckily, Superman is there to save the day and restore peace. The movie was well received and was the first appearance of George Reeves as Superman, a role he would become well known for as he continued to play the character on TV until 1958. The deepest well in the US at the time of the film’s release was 20,521 ft.     November 23, 1953 — Natalie O. Warren Sets Sail For the First Time (found here: The Natalie O. Warren, the first seagoing ship designed to carry LPG, is named for the wife of oilman and philanthropist William K. Warren.   The Natalie O. Warren, the first ship designed to carry liquefied petroleum gas, set sail from Houston to Newark, NJ on a cold November day in 1953. The ship had been converted from a cargo freighter by the Bethlehem Steelyard for the Warren Petroleum Corporation. The ship was an experimental design, created to carry almost 40,000 barrels of LPG in vertical pressure tanks. Deemed a highly successful experiment, the voyage led to the construction of many more LPG carrying vessels. Modern versions of the Natalie O. can carry almost 20 times the amount of LPG of the original ship.     November 25, 1875 — Cross Country Oil Transportation Begins (found here: Continental Oil Company would later merge with Marland Oil to form Conoco.   In the late 1800’s, kerosene was less expensive in the eastern US than in western states such as Utah and Colorado. The dramatic cost difference convinced Isaac Blake that there was money to be made in transporting cheap eastern kerosene out west. Blake formed the Continental OIl and Transportation Company and began buying kerosene in bulk out east and then bringing it west to Utah to sell. Soon, the company bought two tanker cars designed to be...

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Edwin Laurentine Drake Dies

  November 8, 1880 – Edwin Laurentine Drake Dies (found here: A monument located in Titusville, Pennsylvania was constructed 1901 to honor Edwin Drake.   Edwin Drake drilled just three wells in his life, but he is widely considered to be the father of the US oil industry-as he was the first American to successfully drill an oil well. Located in Titusville, Pennsylvania, it first produced oil in 1859, and started the U.S. petroleum industry. Twenty years after his ground-breaking discovery,, Drake passed away in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. While the oil industry would bring wealth to many people, Drake invested poorly and his money was soon lost in speculation. He also never patented his innovative idea behind how to drill for oil. Ill and living in poverty, Drake would be voted a pension for his support to recognize his achievements. Decades after his death, his contributions would finally be fully recognized. Henry Rogers, an executive with Standard Oil, would have his body re-interred in Titusville, Pennsylvania. Once he was returned to the town where his historic well was drilled, a monument was built in Drake’s honor. The monument includes a bronze statue called ‘The Drifter.’     November 10, 1854 – George Bissell Buys Land For First Commercial Oil Well (found here: The Drake well after striking oil.   In 1854, George Bissell bought 100 acres containing oil seeps from the Brewer, Watson & Company lumber company. He believed that when oil was refined it could be made into kerosene as a fuel for lamps. Following up on his suspicions, he asked Professor Benjamin Sillman Jr. to investigate. After Sillman confirmed that kerosene could be used as a fuel, Bissell hired Edwin Drake to drill on the sight of the oil seeps. Drake would go on to drill the first commercial oil well in the United States.     November 10, 1914 – Woodrow Wilson Opens Houston Ship Channel (found here: The Houston Ship Channel provides a deep water path to one of the busiest seaports in the US.   The discovery of oil, along with increased agriculture, lead to increased ship traffic into the Port of Houston and a number of issues for those trying to access the port. This is when the historic Houston Ship Channel came to life. Dredged out of the Buffalo Bayou, it provided a wider, deeper path into the port. The swampy and overgrown area is dredged to a depth of 25 feet. What was perhaps most unique about the opening of this channel is that President Woodrow Wilson opened it remotely from the White House, saluting and pressing an ivory button that was wired to a cannon in Houston.     November 11, 1884 – Six Gas Companies Combine to Form ConEd in New York (Found here: A painting of New York in 1873. Competing gas companies would often sabotage each other.   In 1884, six major companies that were servicing the gas lights in New York City came together to form the Consolidated Gas Company; which would go on to become Consolidated Edison. This was an unprecedented move as gas companies used sabotage one another in this highly competitive industry, which was often plagued with brawls over the placement and repair of gas lines.  The first of these companies, New York Gas Light Company, was created in 1823 by a charter from the state legislature. The company’s focus was a street lights, rather than home lights, and they worked to replace the whale oil fueled lamps that has been in use since the mid 1700’s. Five other companies were eventually dedicated to serving New York City before the merger in 1884, often in heavy competition. Workers would regularly tear up city streets to lay new lines or repair existing ones, in the process taking the time to pull out the lines of rival companies.     November 12, 1899 – Mary Alford and Her Nitro Factory Becomes Famous (found here: Byron Alford was an entrepreneur who counted oil, lumber, and explosives among his business ventures. When he died in 1898, his wife took over.   In 1888, when successful businessman and serial investor, Byron Alford was looking to expand his growing business empire, he decided to purchase an explosives factory. However, when he died just one year later, his wife, Mary Alford, took over the management of the factory. She had studied the business while her husband was alive and was able to run it successfully, becoming the only woman in the world at that time to own a nitroglycerin factory. She was even profiled in a New York newspaper in an article for her work with the massive factory. Nitroglycerin, among other things, was used to increase the flow of oil in an early form of fracking. ‘Torpedoes’ full of nitro were lowered into the well and exploded, forcing open the rock so more oil come reach the well bottom.     November 12, 1916 – The Establishment of the New Forest Oil Company (found here: Forest Oil’s logo shows a keystone in a yellow dog lamp, and was established at the company’s founding in 1916.   When Forest Oil first opened its doors in November of 1916, the company’s innovative approach to enhancing the recovery of oil would quickly prove to be a groundbreaking move for the industry. The approach was rather simple, as it pumped water into a formation to push the oil toward the well. This technique, called water-flooding, would quickly become common practice around the oil industry. Increasingly effective water-flooding techniques have extended the lives of some wells by many years. Forest Oil still exists today, though it has merged with several other oil companies over the years. Its headquarters can now be found in Colorado.     November 12, 1999 – American Chemical Society Names Discovery of Plastics a Landmark in the History of Chemistry (found here: The ACS published this commemorative booklet to mark the occasion.   The development...

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Ford’s Shocking New Addition To The EV Market

Ford Motor Company will reveal on November 18 an all electric SUV inspired by its iconic Mustang, one of the world’s largest auto manufacturers said, as legacy carmakers try to grab shares of the growing electric vehicle market.     Ford released the first design sketch of the all electric SUV on Thursday and said that the global reveal will be ...


Joe Roughneck Statue Dedicated In Texas

  October 26, 1970 – Joe Roughneck Statue Dedicated in Texas (found here: The ‘Joe Roughneck’ statue was dedicated by Texas Governor Preston Smith in 1970. It is at a rest stop off Highway 64 and marks the site of a time capsule to be opened in 2056.   In the 1950s and 60s, no one in the state of Texas could go about town without seeing the cartoon image of Joe Roughneck. This recognizable character started as part of an advertising campaign for the Lone Star Steel Company, but soon he was adopted by the entire oil industry. In October of 1970, Joe got the credit he deserved for his work in bringing awareness to this industry, when a Joe Roughneck statue was dedicated on the anniversary of the discovery of a giant natural gas field near Boonsville, Texas. The field was discovered 20 years previously by the Lone Star Gas Company at its Vaught No. 1 well. Over those two decades, between discovery and dedicated of the statue, the natural gas field would produce 2.5 billion cubic feet of output. By 2001, over 3 trillion cubic feet had been produced by more than 3,000 wells. Not only does a Joe Roughneck bust mark three other oilfield monuments, not including the one in Boonesville, he’s also an award himself. Since 1955, the Chief Roughneck Award is given by the Independent Petroleum Association of America to a petroleum executive to honor their achievements and character. The bust used for this coveted award was sculpted another native Texan, artist Torg Thompson, whose work is still on display today everytime one of these awards is handed out.     October 27, 1763 – William Maclure is Born (found here: This map says it is, ‘designed to illustrate the Geological Memoir of Wm. Maclure, Esqr.’ It is a detailed geological map put together by William Maclure.   Though William Maclure was born in Scotland, he created Some of the earliest geological maps of the United States and what would become Canada and Mexico, were actually created by a man born in Scotland. Starting in 1809, WIlliam Maclure began crafting these geological maps after coming to the US in 1797 and exploring the eastern part of the country. His first map was the result of his journey in 1808 from Maine to Georgia and was first published in the Transaction of the American Philosophical Society. He correctly identified the Appalachian Mountains as the oldest rock in the region, as well as outlining six different regions of distinct geology. His studies and maps led to a certain amount of fame in scientific circles and when the American Geological Society was fo rmed by Benjamin Sillman in 1819, Maclure became its first president. Thanks to his work and his role as president of the AGS, many geologists consider him the “Father of American Geology.”     October 27, 1938 – DuPont’s Synthetic Yarn is Dubbed ‘Nylon’ (found here: Dr. Wallace Hume Carothers, who lead the team that developed Nylon and other synthetic fibers and materials.   Nylon may seem like a very common fiber used in clothes and accessories today, but when it was first derived in 1935, it was anything short of miraculous. A Dupont team lead by Dr. Wallace Hume Carothers used different compounds derived from petroleum to develop this synthetic yarn that would soon be dubbed “Nylon.” However, Carothers himself, always called it Nylon-6, due to the its molecular structure, which included 6 carbon atoms. Nylon has become recognized as the first truly commercially successful synthetic polymer. It has since been used in a number of applications, including consumer goods like stockings, tents, safety equipment, and more. It has also found use in the medical and even aerospace fields, proving just how revolutionary this petroleum-based fiber really was.     October 27, 1923 – Lion Oil Refinery Is Founded In 1923, Lion Oil would begin to operate a refinery in El Dorado, Arkansas.   October 27th, 1923 marked the birth of the soon-to-be-famous Lion Oil Refinery company.  Thomas Harry Barton reorganized the El Dorado Natural Gas Company into the Lion Oil Refinery Company after Barton acquired a massive refinery the year before The company would grow and begin processing thousands of barrels a day and a few years later would purchase a number of oil wells to operate them directly–aiding in the rapid growth of the industry at this time. Lion Oil would later by bought and merge with Monsanto, retiring the well known leaping lion logo. However, Lion Oil is still around today, and the name is still used to market a range of petroleum products.     October 28, 1926 – Oil Discovered On Failing West Texas Ranch (found here: The Yates Oilfield in West Texas is one of many that draws from the Permian Basin   In 1926, Ira Yates was struggling to pay for his ranch, located in West Texas just north of the Chihuahua Desert. The lack of water and predation made it a difficult business. To pay his taxes and the mortgage, he convinced the San Angelo based Transcontinental Oil Company to drill a wildcat well on his property. While it seemed like a risk at the time, the wildcat drillers used a standard cable-tool rig and struck into the rich Permian Basin formation. The Ira Yates 1-A Well produced nearly 500 barrels a day. Soon after, four more wells were drilled for another 12,000 barrels a day, making it one of the largest collections of wells of its time. As the wells were far from a pipeline, their production was sent to a storage tank. As for Ira Yates, he eventually received a check for $18 million as his portion of the major oil strike, proving that the risk he took on his ranch really paid off.

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Unocal is Founded

  October 17, 1890 – Unocal Is Founded (found here:,_Orange_County,_June_1961.jpg)   When oil drillers Wallace Hardison and Lyman Stewart, founded The Union Oil Company of California in 1890, they had no idea it would go on to be a leading force in the oil industry for over 100 years. Soon after establishing their company in Santa Paula, CA, the two drillers were joined by local politician, Thomas Bard. Shortly after that, in 1901, the company moved to Los Angeles. The original headquarters remained a field office for many years and has since been named a historical landmark. Today, the original Unocal office, is the location of the California Oil Museum. Unocal remained a giant  in oil exploration and exploitation until 2005, when it merged with Chevron.     October 17, 1917 – “Roaring Ranger” Oil Discovery (Found here:  The Roaring Ranger well gushes near Ranger, Texas.   Beginning in 1904, companies from all over the US made their way down to Eastland County, Texas in hopes of striking oil. However, it took nearly 13 years of exploration for one of these companies to eventually hit it big. The year 1917 marked the first big oil discovery in Eastland County and it opened up the floodgates for the big Texas oil rush. The gushing J.H. McCleskey No. 1 well would lead to a boom in the area that would later be said to fuel the Allied victory in WWI. William Knox Gordon’s wildcat drilling, which lead to this discovery, was financed by the Texas and Pacific Coal Company and his success would lead to production of over 1500 barrels a day of high-quality oil. Within two years, the Texas and Pacific Coil Company’s stock would jump over forty times its initial value, going from $30 to over $1200 a share. The well quickly earned the nickname of the ‘Roaring Ranger,” for its location near Ranger, Texas, would go on to lead to a number of high production wells in the area. As roughneck drillers and the businesses that followed them flocked to the area, the area saw a tremendous economic boom. It also saw a population boom, with Ranger’s population tripling in size. The influx of men and money would lead to a whole range of other success stories. Most notably, Conrad Hilton quickly came to the area to buy a bank. When the deal did not work out, Hilton would instead buy a motel in Cisco, Texas—starting the now infamous worldwide chain of Hilton Hotels.     October 17, 1973 – The Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries Decides An Oil Embargo (found here:   In retaliation for supporting Israel in the ‘Yom Kippur War,’ the Organization of Arab Oil Exporting Countries passed measures preventing the US and several other industrial nations from purchasing their oil. That organization included most Arab OPEC countries, as well as Syria and Egypt—and they were following a policy they called ‘oil diplomacy.’ Most nations had been used to decades of inexpensive gasoline and the embargo lead to severe economic declines, including a startling drop in the New York Stock Exchange of nearly $100 billion. At that time, the low level of reserves in the United States required that a substantial amount of oil be imported to meet demand. By 2005, the amount of oil imported into the United States reached an all-time high. It wasn’t until recently that the United States was able to harness the power of new technologies to become the world’s largest producer of oil.     October 18, 2008 – Derrick dedicated in Discovery 1 Park (found here: The replica derrick that is found on Discovery 1 Park, on the site of the first oil well in Oklahoma.   Nellie Johnstone No. 1 was Oklahoma’s first commercial oil well, and an important figurehead in the state’s rich oil history. In 2008, the town erected a replica of that historic well at Discovery Park One, in honor of all that oil production had brought to the area. The celebration was capped by the well gushing, though this time it was pumping water rather than oil. Today, visitors to the park can see reenactors of the roughneck drill workers operating the replica.     October 20, 1949 –  An Unusual Find: A Natural Gas Well In New England (Found here: There are a few natural gas wells in Maryland, but so far no one has found oil there.   Much to the surprise of all involved, in 1949 wildcat well drilled in Garrett County, Maryland started producing close to 500 Mcf of natural gas a day. Located in the westernmost country in Maryland, this marvel of gas production influenced others to come to Maryland and neighboring Pennsylvania to look for oil themselves. Twenty nine wells are drilled within Mountain Lake Park, Maryland, and 20 of these still produce some gas, though the high density drilling depletes the field quickly. Natural gas is still produced in a few wells in New England, though no oil has been discovered yet.     October 21, 1921 – New Mexico Gets Its First Natural Gas Well (Found here: In 1921 natural gas was discovered near Aztec, New Mexico. Natural gas would be found elsewhere in southeastern New Mexico soon after.   On this date in 1921, the State No. 1 Well in Aztec, New Mexico made its official debut, ushering in a new era of natural gas production in the area. Leading to the founding of the San Juan Basin, production in this area continued to be a source for oil and natural gas well into the 21st century. State No. 1 had a daily production of nearly 10 million cubic feet, and needless to say, drillers were not prepared for an output of this size. A makeshift wellhead of a tree trunk, pipe, and valve had to be used until a proper wellhead that could handle the production was shipped from Colorado. Within three months, a pipeline was bringing natural gas to...

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Founding of USOGA

  October 13, 1917 – Founding of the USOGA (found here: The modern USOGA works on behalf of the oil and gas industry, particularly in states along the Gulf of Mexico.   The US Oil and Gas Association (USOGA) isn’t just a big force in the oil and gas industry today—it is one that has been governing this sector for over 100 years. While it operates under this name today, when the USOGA was first founded in 1917 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, it was known as the Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association. The organization was created just six months after the United States’ entered into World War I, with the intention of providing fuel and other petroleum products to the US military. Its founders included Frank Phillips, Bill Skelly, and E.W. Marland, all of whom were independent producers at the time. Two years later, the organization created a new division known as the Oklahoma Oil & Gas Association. Today the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association is the oldest energy trade organization in the United States. Today, the USOGA has shifted their focus from providing fuel to the US military to advocating on behalf of the petroleum industry.     October 13, 1954 – The First Oil Well In Arizona Is Completed (Found here:,_Arizona#/media/File:Map_of_Arizona_highlighting_Apache_County.svg) Apache County, Arizona produces all of the state’s oil.   Shell Oil finished the first oil well in Arizona in the 1950s, making it the 30th state to produce oil. The well, East Boundary Butte No. 2, was drilled just within Arizona’s northern border inside a Navajo County Indian Reservation in Apache County. While this well initially only produced small amounts from Paradox Basin—it would eventually become more productive. However, the real reason the establishment of this oil well was such a big deal, it because it had been a long time coming. While oil was reported in Arizona as early as the late 1890’s, attempts to drill wells proved unsuccessful for nearly 50 years. The first attempts were made in 1903 by Joseph Heslet from Pennsylvania. He was never fully successful, even though his final attempt to drill a well in 1916 did produce small traces of oil. The only wells that have yielded production in the state have all been located in Apache county. Close to 90 percent of the holes drilled in Arizona have been dry, and the state produces only small amount from less than 30 wells.     October 14, 1929 – Discovery of Oil In Van, Texas Leads to Boom   (found here: The Van Area Oil & Historical Museum is located in a building originally built as a warehouse for Cook Camp.   On October 14th, 1929, the Pure Oil Company discovered oil in Van, Texas, a small community outside of Dallas. The discovery would ultimately lead to the infamous Texas oil boom that lasted well into the 1930s. Tapping into the Woodbine formation, the Jarman No. 1 well was followed by three more wells, which led to the establishment of Cook Camp—the first camp of its type designed to help the influx of workers who came to the area specifically to work in the mines.  By 1930, the wells would be producing tens of thousands of barrels per day. Two pipelines were built to bring oil from the wells to refineries. One pipeline lead to the Beaumont, Texas refinery, while the second pipeline, operated by Humble Oil joined the Standard Oil Pipeline that went to a refinery at Baton Rouge. This was the first field in the Mid-Continent to be owned by two separate companies, but managed as a single unit to maximize production. Known today as unitization, this joint effort has become a common practice in many oil fields. One of the buildings constructed for the camp, a sheet metal warehouse, is still in use today as the official home of the Van Area Oil and Historical Museum. Van, Texas still hosts an annual festival to celebrate the discovery and boom that followed.     October 15, 1997 – A New Land Speed Record is Set Using Kerosene (found here: The Thrust SSC was the first land vehicle to break the sound barrier.   On this date, in 1997, kerosene was harnessed to power the fastest car in the world and to set a new land-speed record. The car, Thrust SSC (Supersonic car), used a kerosene and naptha fuel to propel it across the Black Rock Desert track in Nevada. The fuel is called JP-4 and was first used as a jet propellant in 1951. The record setting speed was 764.035 mph—making it the first land vehicle to break the sound barrier. The impressive time trial was even recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records.     October 16, 1865 – Construction of the First Pipeline (Found: Pipelines took jobs from teamsters, so they were buried so they couldn’t be sabotaged.   Pipelines have revolutionized the way we transport oil today and the first of these lines made its debut on October 16th, 1865. The first pipeline only ran about five miles across Venango County, Pennsylvania, from the Fraser well to the Miller Farm Oil Creek Railroad Station. The line was only two inches in diameter and made out of iron pipe. The pipeline was made using welded joints of pipe 15 ft long and was powered with 10 horsepower steam pumps. This small but efficient pipeline could transport 80 barrels of oil in an hour—a job that previously took 300 men about 10 hours to accomplish. (found: This marker in Venango, Pennsylvania is at the site of the first pipeline.   However, not everyone saw this improved efficiency as a good thing. Another pipeline, from Pithole Creek to another well seven miles way, faced serious opposition and was sabotaged by teamsters worrying about their jobs. Armed guards would eventually have to proOctober 16, 1931 – Natural Gas Pipeline Recordtect the pipeline to prevent oil workers from damaging it.   (Found...

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Giant Oilfield Discovered on Daisy Bradford’s Farm

  October 3, 1930 – Giant Oilfield discovered on Daisy Bradford’s Farm (Found here: The East Texas oilfield remains one of the largest in the continental United States. It was first tapped by Columbus Joiner in 1930 at the Daisy Bradford #3 Well.   On October 3rd, 1930, a crowd of more than 4,000 spectators gathered at Daisy Bradford’s farm, around Well No.3, waiting with bated breath to see what was lying beneath its surface.   The potential Texas oil mine represented the chance of a new beginning following the Great Depression. And when a nitroglycerine charge was set off, oil erupted and the landowners, stockholders, creditors and leaseholders in attendance saw just how much promise it held. The event was spearheaded by a man named Columbus ‘Dad’ Joiner. After several failed attempts to find oil in the area, Joiner successfully opened the first well in the East Texas Oilfield. Though many suspected that oil was to be found in the area near Kilgore, Texas where Bradford’s farm was located, few could have guessed just how large this oilfield would be. Geologists would later determine that Joiner’s well tapped into the Woodbine formation, a field of oil that stretched north from Kilgore and across more than 140,000 acres. Even at the time, the crowd had little idea of how big this discovery was as this formation is still producing today and has yielded over 5 billion barrels of oil. This discovery on October 3rd also spearhead the creation of one of the biggest pipelines constructed at the time. Known as “The Big Inch” this 1,400 mile pipeline was built to transport the formation’s production to refineries in Philadelphia.     October 3, 1980 – Opening of East Texas Oil Museum (Found here:–d8dd40825056b3a_d8dd48bc-5056-b3a8-499cb9d4a7a106bb.jpg) The East Texas Oil Museum was founded in 1980 to commemorate the men and women who labored to tap and exploit the oilfield.   With funding provided by the Hunt Oil Company, the East Texas Oil Museum opened its doors on October 3rd, 1980—50 years to the day after Joiner tapped into the Woodbine formation. The museum is located on the campus of Kilgore College, not far from the No. 3 Well. Inside its doors, the museum details the history of the area and tells the stories of the many people who have worked the oilfields there. While there is a great deal to see at the museum, major highlights include authentic recreations of the oil-boom towns that quickly populated the area at the time. Visitors can even take an elevator ride down a simulated trip deep underground to explore what life was like working 3,800 feet below ground.     October 5, 1915 – Geology Becomes An Important Part of the Oil & Gas Industry (Found here: Above is the Stapleton No. 1 Well. To its left is a marker which describes the discovery in October 1915 of the El Dorado Oilfield in Kansas. At the time the oilfield was one of the largest in the world.   October 5th, 1915 was one of the most notable moments of the early days of the Kansas Oil Boom, thanks to the discovery of the El Dorado Oilfield. Located just outside of Wichita, this was part of a series of similar discoveries that led to the identification of the Mid-Continent Oilfield. This sprawling area was one of the largest known oil reserves until oil was discovered in the Middle East. The Stapleton No. 1 well that was opened on October 5th is notable in that it was one of the first times a geologist was consulted before drilling. The Kansas geologist was retained by prominent citizens of El Dorado to study the area after oil and gas were discovered in nearby communities. At the time, the field of geology was just developing methods for this type of study. By using these tactical approaches, the state geologist was able to identify an anticline in the area. Known as the El Dorado Anticline, the discovery encouraged other well-known oil businessmen, such as John Vickers and William Skelly, to open their own wells in the area—forever shaping the Mid-Continent industry.   (found here: Historic drilling equipment can be found at the Kansas Oil Museum, where details of the modern petroleum industry and demonstrations can also be found   The Stapleton No. 1 well went down over 2,000 feet and produced over 100 barrels a day. Using the science of geology to identify areas likely to produce large amounts of petroleum would become standard practice in the oil and gas industry.     October 5, 1958 – Water Park opens for a Day in Former Oil Tank (Found here: Originally built to store oil from the west Texas Permian Basin.   On October 5th, 1958, Melody Park opened in a huge concrete tank, originally built to hold oil, for its first and only day of operation. Filled with water, the tank was used for swimming, angling, and more until leaks forced it to closed. The tank was originally built by Shell Oil to hold oil coming from the Permian Basin reservoir, as there was no pipeline to transport it to refineries. It had been built thirty years before Melody park opened, in 1928, but was quickly taken out of use as the weight of the oil it held cracked the concrete allowing oil to seep into the ground.  Located in The Monahans, Texas, it is now the location of the Million Barrel Museum.     October 7, 1859 – The First Oil Well Is Set On Fire The site of the first oil well built for commercial purposes in the U.S. was also the site of what could have been the first oil well fire. The well was located in the area of Titusville, Pennsylvania and had been drilled in August of 1858 by Edwin Drake. It was only about 70 ft deep and had been drilled using the technology of the time: steam powered cable-tools.  Drake’s driller,...

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Washington Thwarts Maduro’s Devious Oil Debt Scheme

The U.S. Treasury is blocking for 90 days creditors from seizing shares in Venezuela’s U.S. subsidiary Citgo, temporarily shielding the prized Venezuelan asset in a win for Venezuela’s opposition and its leader Juan Guaidó.   Venezuela’s state oil firm PDVSA must make a payment of US$913 million on a 2020 bond on Monday, October 28, but the bond ...


Ulterra Discusses Two Trends in the Oil and Gas Industry: Combining Vertical, Curve, and Lateral (VCL) Runs and Drilling Extended Reach Laterals

This article first appeared in the September 2019 edition of Hart Energy E&P Magazine.

Going Deep

Operators are Applying New PDC Bit Technology to Combine Sections and Drill Record Wells

As U.S. land operators continue to set production records, their need for more robust technology to reduce cost and enhance performance has never been greater. Ulterra, a PDC drillbit ...

Source: Ulterra

Trump Vows To Protect Syrian Oil Fields From ISIS

The United States may leave 500 troops in northeastern Syria and send in battle tanks and other equipment, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing military officials who presented the option to President Donald Trump. The purpose of this move would be to help the Kurds in the area to protect oil fields that used to be controlled by Islamic State ...


EPA refinery exemptions reduced renewable fuel blending requirements in 2018

On August 9, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it had granted 31 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Small Refinery Exemptions (SRE) for the 2018 compliance year, or 4 fewer than were approved for the 2017 compliance year. As of October 2019, two SRE applications were pending. The SRE waivers effectively reduced the amount of biofuel required to enter the nation's fuel supply by exempting 7.4% of the total RFS renewable fuel volume mandate for the 2018 compliance year, or about 1.43 billion gallons.

Source: EIA: Today in Energy